Day At The Track

Bettors Fire overcomes early scare to win feature sprint

11:54 AM 03 Nov 2013 NZDT
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Frank Ranaldi owner of Bettor's Fire is the little guy in the photo
Frank Ranaldi owner of Bettor's Fire is the little guy in the photo

Quick thinking by Kyle Harper enabled him to narrowly avoid a dramatic situation as the mobile barrier released the field for the $50,000 Nepean Conveyors Mount Eden Sprint at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Harper was driving 13/8 second favourite Bettors Fire when the five-year-old, starting from the prized No. 1 barrier, ducked his head and attempted to dive underneath the mobile barrier arm. The big gelding then veered sharply towards the inside of the track and Harper had to reef him back to get him behind the arm.

Harper had Bettors Fire keen on the bit to ensure that he would take full advantage of the inside draw by jumping straight to the front. But Bettors Fire was so anxious to outpace his rivals at the start that he made an attempt to get under the mobile arm.

The 23-year-old Harper remained cool in the crisis and was able to avert what could have been a catastrophic situation. For a fleeting moment there appeared the possibility that the horse could have become wedged under the arm of the mobile barrier, and this could have resulted in him crashing to the track and causing chaos to the runners on the back line in the field of 12.

Bettors Fire burst straight into the lead and gave a superb frontrunning display to win the feature event by two and a half lengths from the 10/9 on favourite Im Victorious, with a length to 40/1 chance Dredlock Rockstar, who was most impressive in charging home from last at the bell.

Bettors Fire sped over the final 800m in 56.8sec. and his rate of 1.53.8 was the second fastest recorded in the 58-year history of the Mount Eden Sprint, formerly known as the State Sprint Championship. The race record of 1.53.6 was set by Im Themightyquinn over 1700m in 2011.

All honours were with the brilliant Bettors Fire, who is owned by Frank Ranaldi and appears set for stardom. But Im Victorious was extremely unlucky, after starting from the No. 2 barrier on the back line and being hopelessly hemmed in between runners for most of the event.

Im Victorious was tenth with 350m to travel before, finally, Justin Prentice was able to get the five-year-old into the clear about 300m from home. Im Victorious sprouted wings and flew down the home straight.

Harper was simply following a family tradition. His father Lindsay drove Havago to victory in the Mount Eden Sprint in 2002 and was successful with Lively Medley in 2004. Kyle Harper’s elder brother Donald won the race with Hayton Brain in 2007.

Kyle Harper now has ambitious plans for Bettors Fire, including contesting the $250,000 Yes Loans Fremantle Cup and $400,000 Nepean Conveyors WA Pacing Cup in January.

“He is a very good horse,” he declared. “I’ve tried to play him down and keep him a bit quiet. But he is a very serious horse and everything has fallen into place for him. The barrier draws have been perfect.”

Bettors Fire set the pace from Dasher VC, with Banana Dana on the pegs and Adda Paternal Suit in the one-out, one-back position. Shardons Rocket went forward from the No. 5 barrier and was trapped out on a limb, three wide, in fourth place for the entire race. Wrongly Accused, trained by Tony Svilicich and a stablemate of Shardons Rocket, followed his three-wide run and kept Im Victorious in a watertight pocket in the one-wide line until the race was virtually all over.

“I thought that when Tony’s horses were three wide it was going to make it difficult for Im Victorious to get out,” Harper said. “Had you switched the draws it probably would be a different story. But with the No. 1 draw I was pretty confident going into a race like this with an M1 horse against Im Victorious, Dasher VC and Better Cover Lover.

“When I saw that Im Victorious was hemmed in I backed off and tried to get a bit of a breather (with a 29.1sec. for the second 400m section of the final mile). I thought that I wouldn’t have to get going until the bell and unleash him at the 600m. Unfortunately for Im Victorious the race wasn’t run to suit him..

“Bettors Fire had only one month off after arriving from New Zealand, but providing if he keeps going forward we’ll be aiming for the big carnival races.”

Bettors Fire has won at seven of his eight starts in Western Australia and now has earned $158,407 from 18 wins and eight placings from only 38 starts.

Dasher VC, who was making his first appearance since last February, fought on well to be fourth, while champion New Zealand mare Bettor Cover Lover was a 17/1 chance from the outside of back line and finished in seventh place after5 settling down in 11th position and sustaining a three-wide burst from tenth at the bell.

ARTORIUS COMPLETES A BONANZA FOR THE BONDS AND BROWN

Forrestdale trainers Greg and Skye Bond have never lost faith in their Victorian-bred pacer Artorius, who charged home from the rear to snatch a last-stride victory in the 2536m TABtouch Claiming Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night to give them and ace reinsman Colin Brown five winners on the ten-event program.

Artorius was a $6.60 chance on the tote and their other winners were At Princeton ($10.60), Bettor Still ($13.80), Johnny be ($1.70) and Our Major Mark ($5.50). The stable also had two quinella results, with Lord Jowers ($17.20) finishing a head second to Bettor Still and Talk It Up ($10.30) finishing a half-head second to Artorius.

Artorius ended a losing sequence of 25, but the Bonds have no regrets that the heeded the advice of a Victorian contact and outlaid just $15,000 to purchase Artorius early in 2010. Now an eight-year-old, Artorius, a son of former champion pacer Our Sir Vancelot, has had 69 starts for them for 11 wins, 20 placings and stakes of $128,361.

Artorius, who has been noted throughout his career for his sparkling late finishing bursts, has an overall record of 113 starts for 22 wins, 33 placings and $169,261 in prizemoney.

He started from the outside of the front line on Friday night and Brown was happy to drop him back to the rear in the small field of seven. He was sixth at the bell and Brown waited until passing the 400m mark before sending him forward with a four-wide burst.

Arnoux, the 6/4 favourite, set the pace from 33/1 outsider Tsunami Lombo, with Shifting Sand on the pegs and Talk It Up in the one-out, one-back position. Ryan Warwick started a three-wide move with Talk It Up with 320m to travel and the nine-year-old got to the front 90m from the post before being grabbed by Artorius in the final stride. Arnoux was a wilting third.

The quintet of winners for Greg and Skye Bond completed a tremendous week for them. The had four runners at Kellerberrin , and all four of them --- Lunar Tide, Carters Rocket, Jungle Genie and Galactic Galleon --- were driven to victory by Ryan Warwick. Then the Bonds were successful with Condrieu (Brown) at Gloucester Park on Monday.

There was one claim lodged in Friday night’s event, with Vance and Wayne Stampalia outlaying $10,000 for Shifting Sand, who finished fifth at his first outing since mid-July. Shifting Sand, a seven-year-old by Jennas Beach Boy, has had 51 starts for ten wins, 14 placings and $55,190.

AWKWARD OUR MAJOR MARK KEEPS BROWN GUESSING

New Zealand-bred six-year-old Our Major Mark thundered home with a sizzling late charge to score an easy victory in the 2536m Retravision Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night to take his earnings to $622,965 from 21 wins and 17 placings from 62 starts. But he continues to cause his driver Colin Brown plenty of headaches.

“He is an awkward horse to drive and basically he goes just when he wants to go,” Brown said. “When his head is right he is a very good horse, but he certainly gives you some anxious moments. When I hooked him out he started to make ground and about half-way round the bend I actually thought he could win.

“But he puts that little bit of doubt every time you sit behind him, and he keeps you guessing. But maybe he just knows where the finishing line is and is telling me not to worry.”

Our Major Mark, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, settled down behind the early pacemaker Heavens Delight before being shuffled back to last in the field of six.

The polemarker Hez The Bart Man, favourite at 7/4 on, galloped badly in the score-up and lost about eight lengths. Gary Hall jun. sent 5/2 second fancy Askmenow to the front after 450m and was joined 500m later by Hez The Bart Man, giving Smirking the one-out, one-back trail.

Hez The Bart Man put in a tremendous effort to get to the front 250m from home, but he was swamped by Our Major Mark, who was still last with 360m to travel. Our Major Mark surged to the front 90m from the post and won by two lengths from Hez The Bart Man, with a fading Askmenow a further 8m back in third place.

Our Major Mark sprinted both the final two quarters in 28.4sec. and recorded a mile rate of 1.58.1.

TOUGHER GDAY MATE IS NO LONGER JUST A SIT-SPRINTER

New Zealand-bred seven-year-old Gday Mate has turned the corner and the renowned sit-sprinter is surprising Boyanup trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice with his newly-found strength.

Gday Mate, a 5/1 chance off the 10m mark in the Chaff City Handicap, settled in ninth place before Prentice sent him forward, three wide, after 700m. The gelding then raced in the breeze outside then pacemaker Ya Dreamin for 550m before 20m backmarker and 6/4 favourite The Ragpickers Dream dashed forward from the rear to race without cover.

The Ragpickers Dream eventually worked his way to the front 150m from home, but was no match for Gday Mate, who produced a sizzling late burst to race away and win by two and a half lengths at a 2.1 rate in the 2503m stand. Ya Dreamin held on to be third.

“Now Gday Mate makes it much easier, being able to be used earlier to get into a forward position,” Prentice said.

He said that circumstances had forced him to take off, three wide, with Gday Mate much earlier than usual at his previous start when the gelding was beaten by a nose in the final stride by This Time Dylan.

“I didn’t want to do that, but it was a good test for him and he showed that he could do it,” Prentice said. “Things worked out perfectly tonight. He did a bit of work early (to get to the breeze) and then The Ragpickers Dream gave me cover, and then we were always going to be hard to hold out.”

SWITCH TO STANDS SUITS THIS TIME DYLAN

“He’s got a few more wins in store for him,” declared leading reinsman Gary Hall jun. after driving This Time Dylan to a convincing victory in the 2503m European Prestige Auto Service Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“I think the switch to stands has been the key for him. He always got too fired up in mobiles and never settled or paced that well.”

This Time Dylan, a New Zealand-bred eight-year-old trained by Gary Hall sen., was favourite at 11/4 and he impressed in running on from eighth in the middle stages to hit the front 140m from the post and race away to win by almost three lengths from Lord Coburn (10/1), with a head to Red Salute (10/1) in third place.

Hall jun. gave the gelding time to settle from the 10m mark while Ideas Man set the pace. Chris Voak made a fast move 1050m from home with Red Salute to move to the breeze, leaving This Time Dylan three wide without a trail in the final circuit. This Time Dylan fought on grandly to hit the front soon after rounding the home turn.

The final two quarters whizzed by in 28.4sec. and 28.6sec. and This Time Dylan rated 2.0.9 in improving his record to ten wins and six placings from 31 starts for stakes of $80,405. He has had 23 starts in WA for seven wins and three placings.

He raced eight times in New Zealand, all in mobiles, for three wins and his first 16 starts in WA were in mobiles and produced three wins in modest company. Hall sen. switched him to stands less than two months ago and his first seven starts in stands have produced four wins.

“He is racing super and he did something tonight that I didn’t think he was capable of,” said Hall jun. “We followed Red Salute into it and when he got the breeze we lost our cover. So I thought we would struggle from then on. He took charge of me a little bit when we lost the cover and he travelled very well down the back.

“He’s a funny sort of horse. You can’t fight him too much, so I just let him slide and was very surprised on the home bend when I pulled the plugs and he had that much to offer. He’s really turned the corner.”

KISS CHASEY UPSETS BIT OF A LEGEND AT HIS WA DEBUT

West Australian-bred six-year-old Kiss Chasey made the most of the massive advantage of starting from the No. 1 barrier at Gloucester Park when he set a solid pace and caused a major upset in holding on to defeat star New Zealand pacer Bit Of A Legend in the 1730m Lancaster Park Pace on Friday night.

Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri produced Kiss Chasey in fine fettle and Chris Lewis rated the gelding expertly with quarters of 29.6sec., 30.1sec. and 29sec. before a blistering final 400m in 27.9sec.

Bit Of A Legend, a winner at 16 of his 32 starts for stakes of $621,918, was making his first appearance in Western Australia and was having his first start since mid-August. He was considered a certainty in the M0-class event and was favourite at 5/1 on.

Brent Mangos gave Bit Of A legend time to settle down from the wide barrier at No. 6 on the front line before he started a three-wide move after 450m to move to the breeze at the 1000m mark. He finished determinedly, but failed by a neck to beat Kiss Chasey, who rated 1.55.8.

Bit Of A Legend is in Perth to contest the three rich events for four-year-olds over the next five weeks. He is sure to be vastly improved by his first-up performance.

“Starting from barrier one over the short distance suited Kiss Chasey,” Lewis said. “The other horse (Bit Of A Legend) had to do a bit of work to get around, and it’s early in his preparation. He obviously needed the run and that I was hoping would be the case.”

Kiss Chasey has started from the No. 1 barrier seven times for four wins, a second, a third and a fifth. He is owned by the reinsman’s wife Debra and has earned $74,179 from nine wins and nine placings from 31 starts. He is by Yankee Sensation and his dam Hello Boys (by Crouch) raced 55 times for 12 wins, 17 placings and $89,541.

Hello Boys is a half-sister to former talented mares Party Date (111 starts for 25 wins, 27 placings and $256,003) and Red Hot Date (44 starts for 12 wins, nine placings and $99,730).

BROWN TIPS MANY MORE WINS FOR SPEEDY JOHNNY BE

Colin Brown was effusive in his praise of Johnny Be and declared the New Zealand-bred six-year-old had the ability to become a top-class performer after driving him to a stylish all-the-way victory in the 2536m Make Smoking History Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Johnny Be, a heavily-supported 7/4 on favourite, burst straight to the front from the No. 3 barrier and set a solid pace before giving his rivals little chance by sprinting the final 400m in 28.4sec. He won by a length from 35/1 outsider Franco Torres, who came from the rear with a fast move at the 1500m mark to work hard in the breeze. Chloe Vargarita (4/1) trailed the pacemaker and finished third.

“The horse’s head is in a good space at the moment,” Brown said. “He went through a period of about 12 months once where he would knock off in the run and wasn’t quite genuine. But his head has been in the right place for his past half dozen runs.

“The horse has always had the ability and we think he is an open-class horse, providing his head is right. He’s certainly got the motor and the speed. And he can stick on as well. So as long as Skye (Bond) can keep his head right, we’re looking okay.

Johnny Be was able to contest the M1-class event on Friday night because he had received a downgrading from M2 to M1 last May when he posted a losing sequence of ten. He has earned $118,605 from 14 wins and 31 placings from 82 starts. He is raced by Greg Bond, Kevin, Rob and John Gartrell, Andrew Foster and Craig Hampson, who also were successful on Friday night with At Princeton and Our Major Mark. Brad Collett also is a part-owner of Our Major Mark.

KOROBEIT ANGEL BOOSTS HER CLAIMS FOR A RUN IN RICH EVENT

Korobeit Angel, a Victorian-bred four-year-old, enhanced her prospects of gaining a start in the $100,000 group 1 Mares Classic at Gloucester Park on November 29 with a smart victory in the 2130m West Australian Mares Pace on Friday night.

Favourite at 3/1 on, she started from the No. 5 barrier on the front line and raced three wide for the first 500m before getting to the breeze outside Hoylakes Firstlady. She began to overrace and Robbie Williams relinquished the lead to her with 1100m to travel. She went on to win by 4m at a 1.58.7 rate from Hoylakes Firstlady, with Terra Into The West running on from ninth (and last) at the bell to be third.

“She’s probably going to be outclassed in the $100,000 race, but you’ve got to be in it to win it,” said reinsman Gary Hall jun. She’s just a crazy, crazy redhead, but she is a nice mare if we can get her to settle.

“Obviously Robbie (Williams) wanted to hold the lead with Hoylakes Firstlady and I was happy to leave him in front. But Korobeit Angel just takes charge and you can’t do much about it. It was good that Robbie elected to sit and he’s earned second place by doing so.”

Korobeit Angel, trained by Gary Hall sen., has won at six of her 12 WA starts and has an overall record of 25 starts for 11 wins, six placings and $71,420 in stakes.

BETTOR STILL BREAKS A LOSING SEQENCE OF 21

Bettor Still made the most of the benefit of two concessions under the drop-down regulations when he scored a narrow victory over stablemate Lord Jowers in the 2536m McInerney Ford Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The New Zealand-bred eight-year-old, trained at Forrestdale by Greg and Skye Bond, had his classification reduced from M3 class to M1 class after two successive losing sequences of ten during this year and his victory broke a losing sequence of 21.

He started at 13/1 on the tote and from out wide at barrier five on the front line and Colin Brown was content to drop him back to the rear in the small field of eight while 5/2 favourite The Feather Foot set the pace from barrier two.

Brown started a three-wide move with 950m to travel and Bettor Still got to the front 140m from the post before he held on to win by a head from 16/1 chance Lord Jowers, who finished powerfully from the rear.

“When he got out there three deep he was travelling very strongly and when the horse is right and you turn for home he drops into another gear, which he did tonight,” said Brown. “Fortunately, we had enough left on the line (to hold out Lord Jowers).

“Skye was confident that he would run a race tonight. The company was less than impressive and it was a small field. His run when fifth at Kellerberrin last Sunday was quite good. He had to go four deep and didn’t get into the race.”

Bettor Still is the second foal out of Holmes Hanover mare Dancinonmoonlight, who amassed $402,832 from 19 wins and 34 placings from 100 starts. She won four times in New Zealand, ten times in Australia and twice in America and three times in Canada. Bettor Still now has earned $110,670 from 16 wins and 13 placings from 69 starts.

AT PRINCETON SURPRISES HIS DRIVER

New Zealand-bred six-year-old At Princeton surprised Colin Brown when he began speedily from the No. 3 barrier and burst to the front after 100m before setting the pace and scoring a runaway victory in the 2130m Gannon’s Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Unplaced at five previous starts, At Princeton was a 10/1 chance, with most punters pinning their faith with Soho Highroller and Rakatup from the stables of leading trainer Gary Hall sen.

However, At Princeton relished his frontrunning role and after speeding over the final 400m in 28.7sec. he beat the fast-finishing Ardens Southee by just over three lengths at a 1.57.7 rate. Soho Highroller (5/4) and Rakatup (13/4) did not enjoy the best of luck in running and finished seventh and tenth, respectively.

“Before the race I didn’t think I could lead,” Brown explained. “Last week I went wide (three wide early, the breeze after 300m and then in the one-out, one-back position before finishing fifth behind Mohegan Sun) which I thought was the right move.

“But we got dragged back and I thought it was a good run and a pointer that he was ready to win. But we thought that he had to draw to lead to win, and it just goes to show you that you’re not always right.”

At Princeton raced 24 times in New Zealand for four wins and seven placings and his 20 WA starts for trainers Greg and Skye Bond have produced four wins and two placings. He has earned $47,546. He is a half-brother to San Fran lady, who has won seven times in New South Wales and seven times in Queensland in the past three years and has earned $127,012.

by Ken Casellas

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